Scotland’s coasts offer up some of the finest marine tourism activities in Europe, and our little pocket of the country is no exception. Packed full of natural wonders, stunning scenery and native wildlife, there are plenty of fun things to do in and on the water in Argyll.
Hoping to fire the imagination of Scotland’s visitors, new tourism campaign West Coast Waters aims to tempt explorers across to the Scottish West coast and get involved in water-based activities. The campaign is a collaboration of 22 groups, including Outer Hebrides Tourism, WildScotland and Heart of Argyll Tourism Alliance. Generously supported by Visit Scotland, the project focuses on celebrating products across the Scottish West coast tourism sector.
From boat trips and island hopping, to swimming and snorkelling, there’s plenty of things to woo curious travellers to the waters of Argyll. Here is our list of water activities not to be missed!
Immerse your senses with a Scottish Snorkel trail
What better to tour the Oban coastline than with a safari guided by marine biologists? A half-day Snorkel & Wildlife Tour will give you a vivid look into the underwater world of the Argyll coast. The rich Scottish waters offer sightings of starfish, rays, sea-urchins, small sharks and a vast array of fish species. It’s the ultimate ‘up-close’ wildlife experience!
Navigate the waters with CalMacFerries
There are over 20 islands to discover in the Argyll and Bute area. Picking up one of Calmac Ferries’ hopscotch tickets means that you can spend a few days on one island, and then catch a ferry to another with minimal worry. The ferry group has 25 itineraries to choose from, offering up uninterrupted views of the spectacular Scottish isles along the way.
Go wild swimming on the shores of the Loch Melfort hotel beach
Wild swimming has fast become one of the most popular ways to enjoy the outdoors and experience nature in its rawest form. We might be biased, but we think the quiet little pebble beach on the shores of Loch Melfort Hotel is one of the best places to go for a cool dip. We even do our own Wild Swimming package! Cold swimming is thought to improve the immune system and encourage better circulation … so what are you waiting for?
Watch the sun go down in Oban at the North Pier
Instagrammers, get your cameras ready! With the seas sparkling in the background, this is an ideal spot to watch the boats roll in for the night; set against a brilliant background of oranges and reds.
Scotland Whale Watching
Often overshadowed by the likes of Costa Rica and the Pacific coast of Mexico, Scotland tends to be overlooked by tourists looking to enjoy a whale watching experience. But did you know, the waters around the Scottish island of Mull are the best place in the UK to watch whales? Orcas and minke whales are regular visitors to the area, and tours are made even more enjoyable with the additional spotting of local dolphins and porpoise.
Visit an exotic white-sand beach
Make like local traveller writer WatchMeSee and take a trip to one of Argyll’s spectacular tropical-like beaches. The small tidal islands of Oronsay doesn’t make it easy for you to get to its blue-water beach, but once you’re there, you’ll be glad you made the effort. You’ll need to schedule your adventure around the times of low tide – making the journey across from the larger island of Colonsay. What’s waiting for you is an untouched, sandy paradise. WatchMeSee summarises it perfectly, “The best places are those that you have to work for a little bit harder!”
With islands and sea caves aplenty, it’s no surprise that Oban is one of the most popular places in Scotland for sea kayaking enthusiasts. There are now a number of operators offering paddlers the opportunity to get out into the waters for a front-seat view of the coast and the wildlife calling the area home. There are a good number of paddle board launch sites along the coastline, but we always recommend beginners take a qualified guide – we love Basking Shark Scotland’s Stand Up Paddle Boarding tours.
Ride a Fat Bike
Yep, you heard us right … Fat Bike! The residents on the Isle of Islay have come up with a fun and unique way of exploring its beaches without having to travel on foot. Fat Bikes come with balloon tires, perfect for beach riding where they can glide over pebbles and sand. They work on both soft and wet sands, and tours with Kayak Wild Islay include a hot drink and homemade flapjack on route. Yummy!